WellnessPlantar Fasciitis? TCM Might Have Some Answers

Plantar Fasciitis? TCM Might Have Some Answers


Ahhh, TikTok, the things we can learn. In a recent video, licensed acupuncturist, Jimmy Yen, suggested that punching your hands can help get rid of foot pain, in particular, plantar fasciitis, a type of heel pain that over 2 million people in the United States face each year. But does it really work?

Let’s look at the foot for a second. The adult human body has 206 bones, 25 percent of which are in our two feet. But, believe it or not, the foot is more complicated than the 26 bones, 19 muscles and tendons, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, nearly 8000 nerve endings, and 250,000 sweat glands in each foot.

Our feet are considered the foundation of our bodies. They provide us with stability, balance, grip, and the strength to walk, run, and absorb shock. And with plantar fasciitis commonly caused by walking and running, it’s understandable that people are looking for a way to self-soothe at home.

 

What is plantar fasciitis

One of the most common foot injuries is plantar fasciitis, “the inflammation of the band of tissue, the plantar fascia, that extends from the heel to the toes,” explains Miguel Cunha, DPM, New York City podiatrist and founder of Gotham Footcare. It happens when pressure on the plantar fascia becomes too great and causes tiny tears and inflammation, the Mayo Clinic says. Factors like age, weight, and having an occupation that keeps you on your feet are all factors that cause plantar fasciitis, and with approximately 10 percent of the US population experiencing plantar fasciitis at some point in their life, can we really punch our hands to good health?

 

Can we punch our way to good health

TikToker and Texas-based Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner, Jimmy Yen, recently shared a video that saw him utilize hand massage to alleviate pain in the heel. “You want to punch your hands, massage your hands, use your thumb, use your first, and push along the palm of your hands,” demonstrated the licensed acupuncturist on social media.

Explaining that between the wrist and mid palms correspond to the heels of the feet, he advised massaging the hands, stretching and walking out the feet, and then repeating the process if the pain continues. And according to some sufferers in the comment section, the TCM practice worked. “I just tried it and it really worked!” shared one TikTok user, with another writing, “I’ve been on my feet all day. Thank you so much, this worked like a charm.”

Dr. Shari Auth, DACM, agrees with the method, adding that sufferers should “focus on massaging along the palm line extending up from the center of the wrist,” as the palms are a “microsystem of the body” and where the Chinese Hand Reflexology lies.

Is hand punching really the best solution

While some may find relief by a hand massage, there are not enough peer-reviewed studies on pressure points and their healing effects. However, there are other TCM and traditional medicine methods that have proven anecdotal results.

Dr. Auth, founder of New York City acupuncture studio, WTHN, doesn’t see any issue with patients attempting DIY treatments such as ear seeding and acupressure, however, she advises they do so while also incorporating treatments like acupuncture to ensure the actual area of concern, the foot, is also examined. Darren Nelson, who’s spent much of his career researching the connections between sleep and injury via TCM, agrees. “There is no damage in trying acupressure and massage at home,” he says. “The idea is to try to promote extra blood and oxygen to the affected area.”

If not hand punching, how can we heal plantar fasciitis at home

While there’s not enough evidence to suggest massaging pressure points in the hands can help with plantar fasciitis, Dr. Cunha recommends simply freezing a water bottle and rolling it under the injured foot for 15 to 20 minutes a day. That along with other techniques like soaking the feet in Epsom salt, anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen, manual pressure, stretching, a good pair of sneakers, custom orthotics, and a night splint, he says most patients can recover without injection therapy or surgery.

But regardless of whether you’re following TCM or traditional medicine, stretching is a must for recovery. “The goal is to decrease the inflammation and provide support to the fascia,” explains Dr. Priya Parthasarathy, DPM. Step Up Foot Care specialist, Dr. Nelya Lobkova, DPM, adds that stretching first thing in the morning is the best way to relieve heel pain. “I advise patients to keep a towel or theraband by the bed and stretch the calf muscle using a simple towel stretch and temporarily stop all high impact activities until the morning pain resolves.”

The bottom line is that plantar fasciitis is unlikely to go away on its own without some sort of treatment. Whether you decide to try punching your hands, TCM practices, or seeing your primary care physician or specialist, all methods require some sort of stretching and massaging in both home and clinic healing. If you do try DIY remedies and pain persists, be sure to contact your healthcare provider.

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